Article by Brian Platt, National Post via Timmins Press
Last month, at a city council meeting in Kelowna, B.C., the ranking RCMP officer was giving his quarterly update on policing when a councillor posed a question about marijuana.
“I know that when I go out for the evening, I can have a beer, and I know the alcohol content in that beer,” said Coun. Ryan Donn. “I know that one would be a good limit for myself to have before getting in a car and driving.
“When I think about cannabis, I really, truly have no idea,” he went on.
“Can it be used an hour before, three hours before? We’re about to go into a world that I don’t know anything about, to be honest with you. How long does it stay in the system? … I know that I don’t have the answers if people ask me on the street.”
RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle had little to offer in response, beyond saying public education is generally behind on this and that federal rules are still under discussion.
“I think there’s going to be a significant learning process for everyone, especially those people that are using cannabis and then operating vehicles, as to what is a safe limit,” he said.
Newly-released internal government research indicates this confusion is widespread. A Public Safety Canada survey conducted by EKOS Research Associates last fall found that although most people understand it’s illegal to drive when impaired by drugs, 43 per cent of Canadians don’t know how long to wait to drive after consuming pot, and one in six felt three hours was long enough — a significant underestimate.
Among marijuana users in the survey, 28 per cent had reported driving under the influence at some point, and among that group, 25 per cent felt it was less dangerous than driving drunk and 17 per cent felt there was no risk to their driving.
The reality is that nobody can say for certain how much cannabis makes you too impaired to operate a vehicle.